By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State freshman defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons pleaded no contest on a charge of simple assault and was found guilty of malicious mischief on Tuesday in Macon, stemming from a March incident in which the former Noxubee County standout was caught on video in an altercation where he struck a woman multiple times.
Simmons was fined $175 for the simple assault in addition to be being ordered to pay $711 in restitution. After being found guilty of malicious mischief, Simmons received an additional fine of $300 and another restitution fee of $125.
A disorderly conduct charge against Simmons was dismissed.
The woman that could be seen being stuck by Simmons in the video, Sophia Taylor, was found guilty of disturbing the peace through fighting. She was fined $225.
Simmons’ case has been under scrutiny since the video of the fight was posted online in March, just one month after the five-star recruit became the jewel of Mississippi State’s 2016 signing class.
In June, Mississippi State announced that it would allow Simmons to enroll and participate in football activities, but Simmons would begin his MSU career with a one-game suspension and be under evaluation by MSU’s Student Counseling Services.
“Based on conversations our staff has had with school, community and church leaders in Noxubee County, this incident appears to be uncharacteristic of Jeffery,” MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a school release last month. “It’s a highly unique circumstance to administer discipline to a student for an incident that occurred prior to that individual joining our university. However, it’s important that Jeffery and other potential MSU students understand that these type of actions and poor decisions are not acceptable.
“We expect the structure and discipline Jeffery will be a part of in our football program to benefit him. Jeffery will be held accountable for his actions while at MSU, and there will be consequences for any future incidents.”
At Southeastern Conference Media Days earlier this month, many of the questions posed to Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen revolved around Simmons. Mullen admitted MSU bears responsibility for Simmons and his actions going forward now that the 6-foot-4, 310-pounder is officially a Bulldog.
“We’re all responsible (if something happens),” Mullen said. “I’m responsible for all of the actions for every one of my players. I’m responsible as a head coach. I can’t be with them all the time. All I can do is be a parent. My wife and I try to be parents to every one of the kids in our program. Not an individual. Just every single one of them.
“I take a great deal of responsibility of all of our players and actions that they do, good and bad.”
Though Mississippi State won’t report for training camp until Monday, Simmons has already started to win over his teammates with his work this summer according to MSU senior linebacker Richie Brown.
“He’s handled everything really well,” Brown said of Simmons at SEC Media Days. “It was a mistake, but he’s been working hard and doing really well right now.
“He realizes what he did and you can tell being around him that he’s very apologetic and he’s working really hard to prove people wrong.”